Illinois Climate and Equitable Jobs Act is model for other states

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Over the past three years, a broad coalition of groups gathered around a table and worked through their differences about the future of Illinois’ energy system, notably free from the influence of utilities.



Candace Colby


© PHOTO PROVIDED BY ESG
Candace Colby

Our result will be far-reaching. We passed into law the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act. This is an incredible accomplishment for a state known for its coal production and signals that Illinois is now an epicenter for green energy companies to come and invest.

More: Deal reported to be near on Illinois energy overhaul package

Among other measures, this bipartisan bill would:

  • Move the state to all clean energy by 2050, the first Midwest state to do so.
  • Create clean jobs workforce hubs to help low-income and underserved populations secure good-paying jobs in clean energy.
  • Close the downstate Prairie State coal-burning power plant, the seventh biggest source of pollution in the country (unless new technology can be developed to operate the plant carbon-free).
  • Rescue and more than double funding for the solar installation industry, which had been booming until subsidies from an earlier law ran out.
  • Invest in weatherization and other energy conservation measures.
  • Establish a goal of getting a million electric vehicles on Illinois roads by 2030; implement a $4,000 per vehicle rebate for EV customers (probably available mid-2022), which combined with federal rebates, will bring the total cost of an EV down significantly.
  • Create a clean energy incubator program to offer support and low-interest capital to small energy businesses and contractors.
  • Create a program to encourage the development of solar and battery storage on the site of closed fossil-fuel plants, to help employ laid-off workers.
  • Provide transition assistance to workers laid off from fossil fuel jobs.
  • Establish consumer protection and utility ethics and rate reforms. While some details are technical, an example would be that rates cannot be automatically increased with no need for approval from regulators. Rate increases must now be tied to performance, such as reliability and resiliency and customer service performance.

While this is a tremendous achievement for Illinois, it will require our continued participation to protect the environmental gains in the law and ensure proper implementation.

Unfortunately, the interests that fought against the law are not going away.

For now, we can celebrate a victory for the people of Illinois in passing a law that will move our state forward economically, ensure cleaner air and healthier communities, provide good jobs to our citizens and incidentally help save the planet by doing our part in addressing climate change.

Candace Colby (candacecolby@aol.com) is a member of the Environmental Study Group

This article originally appeared on Journal Standard: Illinois Climate and Equitable Jobs Act is model for other states

via MSN

October 23, 2021 at 07:55AM

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